LCCC November 2021 minutes

Minutes of Leith Central Community Council ordinary meeting, held via
MS Teams, on Monday 15 November 2021 at 7:00pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.

1 Welcome, introductions, attendance, apologies

1.a Attendance

  • LCCC voting members: Alan Dudley, Charlotte Encombe, Pierre Forissier, Nick Gardner, Sheila Kennedy, Ian Mowat,
Harald Tobermann, John Wilkinson
  • LCCC ex-officio and non-voting members: Bruce Ryan (minutes secretary), Cllrs Amy McNeese-Mechan, Rob Munn, Susan Rae (all Leith Walk ward)
  • Others: Jack Caldwell, Alan McIntosh (Broughton Spurtle), Simon Holledge (EACC), Steve Kerr (EACC), ~3 residents and visitors

1.b Apologies

  • PC Chris Johnstone (Police Scotland), Ben Macpherson MSP

1.c to note: declarations of interest in any items on the agenda


1.d to agree: order of business below


2 Approval of minutes of the LCCC ordinary meeting on 18 October

  • Approved subject to deleting ‘to £40’ in item 5a, point 2, and clarifying that the ‘warm words’ in item 7e come from the Cockburn Association, not C Encombe.
  • Proposed I Mowat, seconded S Kennedy, nem con

3 Matters arising from previous minutes (and not included on agenda below)

  • Item 3, point 2: ‘ward walk’ actions held over to January meeting
  • Item 3, point 4: a prospective new member has now realised she doesn’t have time to join LCCC
  • Item 4: C Encombe was told by Police Scotland that police would attend LCCC meetings, but apologies were received for this meeting
  • Item 6a: Action: I Mowat/H Tobermann to write to CEC about pavements issue
  • Item 6d: I Mowat and J Wilkinson to communciate with CEC about Broughton Rd stable block
  • Item 7a: P Foressier is to write to CEC about changes to applications on the planning portal without notification
  • Item 10: C Encombe has contacted CEC about recycling stickers: relevant CEC officers are working from home so this matter can’t be resolved just now

4 Policing matters

4.a to note: that there is no written Police Officer’s report ‘a result of many factors, however most significantly the policing of the COP26 event’ (Police Sergeant Elaine McArthur-Kerr)

  • C Encombe noted that the last report did not mention a serious event in LCCC’s area

4.b to note: verbal update by PC Chris Johnstone

PC Johnstone not present, hence no report

5 Talk and Q&A on the Future of Community Councils In Edinburgh by Steve Kerr (chair Edinburgh Association of Community Councils)

  • SK became EACC chair in January 2021. He has been on Corstorphine CC for 14 years.
  • Since becoming EACC chair, SK has been working towards
  • SK was asked to join an Audit Scotland ‘best value working group’ on the Edinburgh Partnership’s performance in community planning, following a ‘scathing’ report on the EP. The initial set of meeting papers did not mention CCs at all, which SK found incomprehensible given CCs’ role.
    • SK then invited CEC director of place (Paul Lawrence) to the next EACC meeting. This led to a negotiation between ECC and CEC senior offices to make recommendations to CEC/EP.
    • 2 such meetings have happened so far. SK has established a geographically representative steering group of EACC members. (Currently Leith is represented by LHNCC and LLCC members. LCCC would be welcome, possibly substituting for other Leith CCs.)
  • The negotiations have had some success, including making recommendations to the EP for its December 2021 meeting.
    • There has been progress on governance topics:
      1. Elections: UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and local authority elections tend to be in 1st week of May. SK has asked if CC elections can move to the same cycle, to help fix this form of democracy in peoples’ minds. Hence it has been agreed that the next Edinburgh CC elections will be in May 2024, unless there is a general election then, in which case then EACC would ask for CC elections to be in May 2025.
      2. Boundary review: The next census takes place in 2022, delivering results in 2023. The CC boundary review should take place before the next CC elections, taking into account population projections for CC areas. CEC sees this as acceptable, and propose a partial review. (For example, Ratho CC suggests it would struggle with this review.) The principles of the review would include a cap on the numbers of citizens per CC area, and possibly correlations between ward and CC boundaries. For example, NTBCC currently overlaps 3 wards.
      3. CC scheme: this is due for review in 2023. Hence there will be opportunities for stakeholders to submit views, and for changes to be implemented before the next CC elections.
    • There has been less success on support for CCs.
      • EACC colleagues have told SK that ‘empowerment’ for CCs means being strongly involved in decision-making and implementation, not being ‘consulted’ after decisions have been taken.
      • Hence SK has ensured that EACC has taken part in policy fora as much as possible.
      • However, this means EACC is stretched thin. Hence it has asked for paid resources to fill this gap, as recommended by McIntosh. (McIntosh stated that CCs are not creatures of council, so CCs need to claw back their independence.)
  • Reform agenda
    • SK stated that for CCs to have credibility and influence, there needs to be systemic change to how they are regarded. These needs a change to CCs’ legal status. There has been no relevant secondary legislation since the 1973 and 1994 local government (Scotland) acts that established CCs. For example, the elements of CC schemes could be specified in secondary legislation.
  • NB all of this work is collegiate/inclusive. I welcome input.

5.a Q&A

  • H Tobermann: I praise the aims of the above, but if resources are lacking, changes could take a long time. In the meantime, what about short-term issues, e.g. lack of police reports, CEC planning providing poorer service. Are these pan-Edinburgh?
    • SK: police have said that if EACC collates issues, senior officers will tackle them. SK has been working towards standardization of police reports to CCs. Corstorphine CC has not received police reports for the last two months, due to abstractions for CoP26. Police are members of Edinburgh Partnership and locality planning partnerships.
    • SK: planning is a perennial issue. CCs have a statutory role. SK hopes to have a dedicated meeting for CCs in the west of Edinburgh, but has been told to wait for City Plan 2030. EACC was told that there would be CP2030 meetings for CCs, but this promise has not been fulfilled by CEC.
  • C Encombe: the boundary review may be very political. Can the overlap issues be sorted?
    • Cllr Munn: I have no answers to this. Boundaries have moved over the years. CEC is due to receive a report on UK parliament boundaries – such things are always contentious, and change with populations.
  • I Mowat:please say more about the Audit Scotland report
    • This report covered locality planning partnerships and neighbourhood networks. They have met fitfully if at all, and stakeholders were struggling to buy into them. Some of this was caused by the pandemic and churn of CEC staff. CEC director of place has admitted things are poor. CCs have been submitting participation requests, particularly in west Edinburgh, though they should automatically be involved. Hence SK has had to build from zero involvement of CCs.
  • I Mowat: aren’t CC elections every 3 years, so the next is due in 2022. Delay may lead to problems around co-option.
    • SK: elections are currently due in September/October 2023, so May 2023 is a quite short move.
    • IM: is the move due to CEC elections in 2022?
    • SK: this may be. However, most concern is about when UK elections will take place.
    • H Tobermann: other countries cope with simultaneous elections.
    • SK: I fully concur. However, CEC has said it will be fully occupied by council elections in 2022.
  • A McIntosh: what is the Scottish Government appetite for introducing new statutory instruments (prescriptive legislation made under an act of parliament)?
    • SK: the Scottish Parliament local government committee is minded to review arrangements for CCs. This could help inform secondary legislation, but this would also need the Scottish Government to be minded to make such legislation. Strong steers from parliamentary committees are often looked on favourably by governments. The current Scottish Government has said it strongly supports CCs
  • C Encombe: the UK needs to reduce the very high number of citizens per representative.
    • SK: Scottish Parliament and COSLA are undertaking relevant work.

6 LCCC Governance

6.a to note: the late unavailability of Hillside Bowllng Club for November and the through-reservation (though not continued usage) of the Nelson Hall until March

  • C Encombe: Nelson Hall is being used for COVID vaccinations.
  • S Kennedy: I have approached the bowling club again for future meetings – they will reply soon.
  • H Tobermann: LCCC should clarify that it will pay properly for a venue, not just make a donation.
  • Action: C Encombe to contact Kirkgate community centre about venues.

6.b to agree: to re-double efforts to secure a venue for future LCCC meetings to be held in public or at least as a hybrid meetings

no discussion

7 Transport and clean streets

7.a Update on Trams to Newhaven works and final design

7.a.i to note: joint submission (with NTBCC et al) to Tram Project Team and CEC Transport Convenor regarding Critical Concerns about the Design of Elm Row Public Realm

  • H Tobermann: contributors include NTBCC, Living Streets, Spokes, Edinburgh Access Panel, Edinburgh Bus Users Group. The current design will cause clashes between all such users. Also, pigeon statues may be replace here, further crowding the area. The contract for installing the trams give CEC councillors very little sway, unless matters go to CEC committee or the trams team (TT) decides to make changes. This document has been sent to many potential ‘influencers’, included LCCC’s ward councillors.
  • HT: this is just one of the many issues along Leith Walk. However, if all of these were to be reopened, this would delay the tram work further. Hence this issue should be rexamined, and others tackled once the tram-work is finished.

7.a.ii to note: lack of progress regarding final design pavement width

  • H Tobermann: see also meetings passim.
    • HT: CCTT members have recently seen the final designs. They should have been published by now. These plans were dated August 2021, so it’s disappointing that they are only coming out now. This is the opposite of empowerment.
    • A resident: please share the current Leith Walk landscaping plans: the versions I’ve seen omit certain trees, so I fear that trees that should be retained will be removed because contractors receive old versions.
    • H Tobermann: I cannot promise that the plans CCTT saw recently showed every tree. (They did show many trees.) Publication has been promised soon.

7.a.iii to note: improved (but still far from perfect) temporary pedestrian crossings across Leith Walk during tram works

  • H Tobermann: there has been some improvement, but these crossings need to be better signposted.

7.a.iv to note: meeting of Leith Walk (Albert – Balfour) businesses with Tram Team

  • L Watters: this meeting sought answers around time-frames and funding for businesses. A follow-up meeting is due soon. There has been progress, e.g. on opening of Iona St, Pilrig crossing, more parking-places. The meeting has illustrated how little direct communication TT undertakes.
    • HT: I have asked TT to state which businesses it contacted, and whether any have gone out of business. No reply yet.
    • Action: L Watters to supply minutes of that meeting to B Ryan, for inclusion in LCCC minutes

7.a.v to note: meeting with John Lawson regarding potential placement of restored ‘Pilrig Muddle’ tram wheels near the site of discovery

  • H Tobermann. These wheels from the former trams are being restored. CEC is sympathetic to displaying them locally, possibly in Iona St.

7.b to note: CPZ Phase 1 consultation has been extended until 5-12-21 and its relationship with Communal Bin Review Phase 1 and 2

  • I Mowat: traffic regulation orders (TROs) have been advertised for phase 1: in LCC’s area, this covers Abbeyhill and Pilrig. S Kennedy has concerns about the former, in that no-one has received information until recently. Closing date for comments is now 5 December. Are there any current concerns, given this is the second consultations?
    • S Kennedy: the issues are which zone Abbeyhill is in; breaking up of colonies conservation area.
      • Cllr Rae: I have contacted an Abbeyhill representative: a report has gone to CEC Greens transport spokesperson. This will inform CEC Green input.
    • P Forissier: new double yellow lines (DYLs) on Spey St Lane are preventing customers parking near businesses here.
      • C Encombe: LCCC has made representations because these businesses reply on customers parking here. Also, being able to use such businesses supports the ’20-minute neighbourhood’ trope.
      • I Mowat: if PF drafts an objection, I will submit it on behalf of LCCC. LCCC should represent community views.
      • H Tobermann: this is cherry-picking that may endanger the CPZ we all desire. LCCC should argue for principles, e.g. ‘if a road has more than a certain percentage of business use, it should be treated in this way’.
      • S Kennedy: people should also put in their own objections, and not solely rely on LCCC.
      • Cllr Rae: this is a community issue, but its complex due to health and safety, moral and ethical concerns. People were trapped by a fire in the flats at the end of the lane, and fire engines could not get through due to parked cars on Spey Terrace and Spey St Lane. Also business owners do not own public streets. Most businesses here do not have electricity, running water or toilets.
      • P Forissier: this is a case worth arguing for – it is a community issue. A suitable compromise can be reached.
      • A resident: DYLs were introduced on Manderston St by planners who had not seen the street and did not know of the garages. The same issue may be affecting this street.
      • I Mowat: there could be a permit system for relevant businesses on Spey St Lane.

7.b.i to note: layout templates for bin hubs contract (agreed by CEC) on setted and non-setted streets

  • I Mowat: this is also subject to a TRO. LCCC members should look at proposals for their own areas, then LCCC can collate concerns.
    • H Tobermann: The CPZ TRO also enables the communal bins. CEC currently has difficulty accessing bins, leading to problems. Hence any LCC submission should not scupper bin placement.
    • S Kennedy: there are 10 large bins near the colonies. They would be replaced by 2 small bins. The Colony residents’ association will pursue this. More frequent collection is unlikely to prevent issues.
    • I Mowat: LCCC transport and clean streets can take up this matter. LCCC members should inform about their own areas.

7.c to note: any other Transport and clean streets matters relevant to LCCC area

  • I Mowat: refuse collectors are replacing food-waste bins haphazardly, blocking pavements. CEC councillors should inform the service.
  • S Kennedy: can the bike lane on McDonald Rd be improved? It is in a very poor state.
    • Action: LCCC T&CS committee to pursue this

8 Planning

8.a to note: progress and details of City Plan 2030

  • S Kennedy: I can lend LCCC members a hard copy of the plan.
  • Action: LCCC members to review draft submission on Teams
  • Action: PF to circulate relevant links
  • P Forissier: LCCC members should engage with this. (Deadline is 19 or 20 December.)

8.b to note: consultation on Proposed Extension to the Leith Conservation Area (closes 19-12-21)

  • Decision: LCCC supports this extension.

8.c to note: Proposed Residential Development, including Demolition of Existing Buildings and Change of Use from Light Industrial o Residential Use. At 117 – 145 Pitt Street And, 9 Trafalgar Ln (21/05861/FUL) closes 3-12-21

  • P Forissier: this would add ~100 flats to the area, and remove some light industry
  • I Mowat: people like Pitt St market, which would be lost. The planned building would match the chimney heights of tenements, similar to a nearby development. So I’m not completely against these plans for a broadly residential street.

8.d to note: Status of current planning applications in LCCC area (NOV21)

  • P Forissier: the application for 27 Arthur St has been granted.
    • C Encombe: judicial review would be costly. It is possible to complain to the Ombudsman about maladministration because this application should have been considered by CEC councillors, not officials.
    • H Tobermann: this is an example of CEC planning being under-resourced and poor process, e.g. lack of neighbour notification, LCCC’s objection ebing lost by CEC
    • Action: CE, HT, PF to draft letter to Ombudsman

8.e to note: any other Planning matters relevant to LCCC area

  • P Foressier: nothing has happened about the planning application for the TSB (deadline for comments 19 November)
    • Action: S Kennedy to supply residents’ objections to PF, PF to submit LCCC objection.

9 Parks and green spaces

9.a to note: response to query regarding slow progress of Powderhall Green Corridor project

  • C Encombe: this response gives no evidence that progress will hasten
  • H Tobermann: this lack of progress is due to abstraction of officers to Spaces for People.

9.b to note: any Parks and green spaces matters relevant to LCCC area

Chair of Friends of Montgomery St park: The same week the huge hedges on Elm Row were chopped down, Montgomery St Park was proud to plant a wee hedge (without much support or encouragement from CEC, apart from local parks officer).

10 Open forum (local residents)[1]

  • No items not reported under appropriate headings

11 AOCB (LCCC members)[2]

  • C Encombe: 25 pipes are discharging sewage into the Water of Leith
  • Action: LCCC to co-sign SOS Leith’s letter demanding these discharges cease immediately

12 Future ordinary meetings (usually 3rd Monday of the month) and meeting topics/presentations

12.a to note: future meetings on 3rd Monday of each month at 7pm (except July and December):

  • 2022: 17 January, 21 February, 21 March, 18 April, 16 May (AGM)

[1] This agenda point allows members of the public to raise issues of public interest; during online meetings.

[2] This agenda point allows LCCC members to raise issues not covered by the agenda.